I sat here tonight trying to come up with a blog entry to write, and my mind became a perfect blank. The first sentence I tried to write was wrong. I could feel it. So I thought some more, and still ‘got nothing’. As a fall back I looked back through my past blogs to try and give me some ideas, and I came across ‘Memory Lane’. I posted it back in 2009 and as I read through it, I relived what I was thinking when I wrote it. That was a good thing, and I thought it was worth reposting. So here we go; revisiting Memory Lane.
Memory Lane: Originally Posted the week of November 29, 2009.
Today I found myself taking a walk down memory lane. I don’t do that often. There are tender spots back there and I don’t particularly like who I was back then. I’ve been saved since I was eight or nine years old. I don’t remember exactly because I have been away from God far enough that I doubted my salvation. Thanks to a merciful God, He gave me the time I needed to realize how bad I could screw up. He stood there waiting patiently until I needed Him, and then He led me back to where I needed to be. All of that was before I actually had a relationship with God. I’ve heard people say that over and over, and I never really understood it until these last six years. My God was the Fire and Brimstone God, the God who waited for you to mess up. The God that you served out of fear. I didn’t know the other side of God. The encouraging God, the gentle God that wants you to succeed. The God that stands there waiting for you to return to Him. The God who waits for you to realize you can’t do it on your own, because sometimes the child has to touch the stove to realize what ‘hot’ means. He is not a vindictive God. He doesn’t wait with the hammer poised above your head for you to mess up like I believed in my youth. I don’t regret all those years of floundering about out in the world, because I realize that they were a necessity for me to become the man I am today. I had to travel that road to help form the tool that God could use to do His will. Yes it is tender back there on Memory Lane, but pain is a teacher I am well acquainted with. I know that I was really blessed all those years but was too blinded by pride to see it. I let the Devil mesmerize me with shiny baubles and parlor tricks. All the while my God stood waiting for me to call out for Him. All he needed was for me to call on Him and He was right there with me, showing me the way back. Memory Lane IS still a little painful for me, but I still stroll down it on occasions to remind myself of the lessons I’ve learned, and that I am not who I once was. My relationship with God began a scant six years ago even though my walk with God began when I was eight or nine. I still make mistakes. I am still just a man. I still fight with carnal side as much as any other human being, but I am not blind to the fact that I am not alone. I see the miracles God works for me everyday. I see the blessings He pours out on me as I journey through this world of tears. It gives me hope that I can be what He always planned for me to be. I don’t have to look far into the past or future. I can be content with what I am at this one moment in time. So don’t worry about the past. Try to be as perfect in this one moment as you can be. Practice this. Just try to be as perfect as you can be in this one moment, and before you know it you’ll have a string of those moments. You will mess up, but all God asks is that we try.
When I was growing up I checked a book out of the public library called ‘The Wizard of Earth-Sea’ (they eventually made a movie of it. I wasn’t impressed). I always loved to read, and had read enough that almost all of the books that the library had that I liked to read, I had already read. I usually chose them at random. A lot of times it didn’t even matter what genre. I read everything from westerns to sci-fi. When I would pick out a book, I would choose by how cool the artwork was on the front, barring that an interesting synopsis on the back, but ‘The Wizard of Earth-Sea” had neither. It was a plain hardback book, with a hideous green cover, and the title in small flowing, black script on the front. The only reason I picked it up was because it was something I hadn’t read that was in one of my favorite genres. I read that book through in one night. It was a short, but well written book, and I loved it. The writer had a way with words that swept you along through his story, transporting you in all but body to his world where heroes and dragons faced off. I would have really missed out on an awesome story had I judged that particular book by its cover. People are like those books. You never can tell what is hiding behind those covers, and if you refuse to read the first chapter because you don’t like the way the dustcover looks, you could be missing out on the greatest adventure of a lifetime. I know we have all heard this particular piece of advice before, but I felt like we could all use a little reminder with all the hate-speak and political correctness going on today. So before dismissing that person standing next to you in line, read the first chapter. You might be glad you did.
The cartoon character steps forward on to the end of the rake. His weight on the head of the rake causes the handle to catapult upward, smacking the character in the face. This in turn causes him to stumble backward onto the head of a hoe, resulting in a hoe-handle to the back of the head. Said character stumbles forward into the rake again. And so on and so on. We’ve all seen it. It’s a common gag used in slapstick comedy, and it’s funny. Except maybe for the character caught in the middle of it. Sometimes I feel like I am that character, bouncing from one catastrophe to the next. Or even worse; because I am focused on the last catastrophe, I cause the next one. Trust me, it’s not quite as funny after two or three whacks with that hoe handle. At those times, the only thing I’ve found that works is not to dwell on them. I just switch over to damage control and deal with what’s directly in front of me, and let God take care of the rest. I’ve found that if I do that, I have a lot better chance of spotting that rake lying hidden in the leaves.
The message yesterday was on Acts3. While I sat and listened to the preacher talk, the scene began to play out before my eyes. Those of you that have read and are familiar with the New Testament know the story I am talking about. The story of Peter and John as they came upon the lame man begging for money outside the temple gate, where Peter spoke those famous words; “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give to you also. In the name of Jesus Christ stand and walk.” Immediately the beggar’s legs were healed and he ran shouting the praises of God. As the story was played out on the screen in my head, I began to empathize with one of the players. This is one of the many ways God has spoken to me through the scriptures, so I waited with eager ears to hear what He was about to say. I wasn’t disappointed. I was surprised, and astounded by the vastness of my ignorance, tho. I expected to see something of me in Peter, or for something to resonate between me and John. I did NOT expect to empathize with the lame beggar. You see when Peter spoke to him, the beggar paid attention. He turned to Peter and John expecting money, something to live on for the next day, or if he was lucky, the next two or three days. These men of God had taken pity on him, and were going to give him something. This is the way I feel when God speaks to me. He has had pity on me and is going to give me something to help me through the trying times of this life. So when Peter said his famous words, it confused the beggar for a moment, and then he reached and took him by the hand. That is when God worked through Peter. Not just giving the beggar money, but giving him something worth sooo much more! The ability to walk! No more did he have to rely on the generousness of others to live. No more sitting and hoping that some man would take pity and help him. He turned to Peter expecting money, and received his Life instead. If we count on men, at best we can only get enough to get by for a few days. If we count on God, we need never worry about it again. After the service I was in awe of how I could miss such a message in all the times I had heard and read that story. Then I had to laugh. I realized that I was going to have to go home and tell my wife that God told me I was lame.
I have a lot of friends on facebook. Some of you reading this blog may have actually found me on facebook. Since I have so many friends I get a wide variety of articles, mimes and videos. So much so that I usually only skim through them, but there is one name on the entertainment beat that is usually guaranteed to draw my interest. That name is Mike Rowe. I used to watch him on ‘Dirty Jobs’, and I really enjoyed the show. He is rumored to have another called “Somebody’s Gotta Do It”, but there has been no ‘official’ recognition of that from the current administration. It seems like everytime an episode is about to air…(We interrupt this blog to bring you breaking news from Kiribati…haha) . Anyway, I have a lot of respect for Mr. Rowe. I’ve watched him do a lot of jobs that I wouldn’t have, and he did them with a smile. I realize as a celebrity, Mr. Rowe has to do a lot things he doesn’t want to do (just watch the show!) but the fact that he does it and still keeps a chipper attitude about it is what amazes me. I try to post encouraging blog installments on a weekly basis, and I try to keep it brief for those people with busy lifestyles, but sometimes I find myself at a loss for encouraging words. Sometimes it’s a struggle for me to encourage others because I’m busy trying to pick myself up. Mike Rowe has been a constant source of inspiration. I wonder how he manages to keep that positive attitude through all of the jobs I’ve watched him do, and all the disappointments and setbacks that’s gotten in the way. Is his attitude really as positive as what comes across the television set, or is the disheartened view of ‘Mike Rowe’ left on the cutting room floor? Well that’s my thought for the week. Maybe ‘Mike’ will find a few minutes to answer this question for me. Maybe he could drop by and give us a few tips on staying positive. I think I’ll ask.
I heard a story once about a monkey jar trap. The basic gist of the story was that a jar was secured to the ground with a banana or some other bait inside. The mouth of the jar was just big enough for a monkey to put his hand in. When the monkey puts his hand in the jar, grasping the bait he finds that he cannot get his hand back out of the jar. All he has to do is let go of the bait and his hand would be free, but the monkey usually lacks the sense to do that and remains trapped. Sometimes I think I’m that monkey, holding onto something so hard that it keeps me trapped, unable to move forward, and unable to enjoy the ‘treasure’ that I am holding onto. Things come an go in this life. This physical realm has a lot of desirable ‘bait’ for you, but if you can’t let it go, you won’t be able to enjoy having it either. It remains stuck in the jar, held in your hand, but out of your reach. Sometimes it’s better just to let go. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but sometimes it’s the best thing you can do.
There are times in my life when the dark side gets the better of me. Negativity reigns and a cloud of doom and gloom settles around my shoulders. As my Grandpa used to say ‘I’m not fit company’ at those times. But every once in a while you come across someone who is so ‘up’, so genuinely enthusiastic in almost all that they do that it is contagious. Those individuals know no fear. They charge into the darkness and drag you out kicking and screaming, regardless of if you are ready to ‘cheer up’ or not. I would like to salute those people for being true to themselves, and for helping me along my path. Even when I don’t realize I need it myself. These are the people I want to help define me. I want to be that person that they keep telling me I can be. Capable and determined and always pushing forward. They recharge my batteries and once again ignite the fire that drives my creativity that to me is life itself. So in honor of all of those individuals I salute you. Never stop being that encouraging voice that pushes through the dark. Never stop being you. You are an inspiration to us all.